Day One of Senior Bowl practices are in the books. Inside the Pylon staff writers Michael Nuttle, Matty Brown, Nick Falato, Andrew Jordan, Joseph Ferraiola and Mark Schofield are down in Mobile covering the week, and have their thoughts on the first day of practices. Here are their notes on the North team practice.
The big show that people were looking forward to, the sight of Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen, was stolen a bit by Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee. While Allen and Mayfield seemed shaky at the start, even on throws against air and during one-on-one situations, it was Lee who stole the show early. He hit on a beautiful deep route to start the seven-on-seven situation to really cap off his afternoon. But then he threw a poor interception on his next throw, followed by a poor interception to start the team session. Allen did have some of his big throws, and the ball certainly pops out of his hand well, but the placement was erratic at times, particularly when he tried to touch on deeper throws. Luke Falk, from Washington State, struggled during the practice, and during his three throws in seven-on-seven, he failed to complete a single one. As for Mayfield, he might be the type of player who performs best when the lights are on. During the team session Mayfield had the two best throws of the North practice session, two beautiful seam routes that were delivered with velocity and great placement.
Nick Falato watched the EDGE position group. OG Will Hernandez from UTEP looked very dominant throughout that session. As for the EDGE Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis did an excellent job locking his arms out and dropping his weight to set the edge in drills, while showing very good physicality at the point of attack. Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was ripped by the Broncos’ staff for only using one hand to try to lock out offensive linemen during drills. He corrected his error and locked out with two arms, but didn’t always have the strength at the point of attack to hold the edge and would often twist off the block. Miami’s Chad Thomas showed the ability to set the edge and use strength at the point of attack to flow laterally during drills. Defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd, from Fort Hays State, showed good explosiveness and a very good push/pull to defeat an interior linemans block. Would like to see more strength from Rutgers Kemoko Turay.
Michael Nuttle watched the cornerbacks in the afternoon session and overall came away with mixed reviews. Taron Johnson from Webster St. of the FCS had mostly a positive day, playing with good closing speed from off coverage and able to play pretty tight coverage throughout the route from press coverage. He did show some issues with losing his balance after jamming and turning his hips. JaMarcus King of South Carolina also had a strong day, though up and down. He has pretty good hip turn and able to stay with guys down the field but was susceptible to allowing separation against the double move. Michael Joseph of Dubuque of Division III was a player a lot of people were eager to see being a smaller school prospect. Overall, today it seemed things were just a bit too quick for him. Footwork in transition was strong but his route recognition and getting his hips turned to break was slow, allowing separation easily. Did show a good ability to stay in phase when his hands were on the receiver early. An injury of note, Western Michigan’s Darius Phillips came up limping during the 1 on 1 drills and was not seen the rest of practice. He flashed great hands in attacking the ball in the air during individual drills but was slow with his closing speed before he went down with injury.
Matty Brown watched the safeties, who overall were a better group than the South team. Hawaii safety Trayvon Henderson was the star of the show. He blanketed guys in underneath zone coverage, but where he truly excelled was in one-on-ones with the tight ends. He demonstrated just the right amount of physicality, not allowing himself to be boxed out. His reps versus Mike Geisecki were great viewing. Henderson also showed ability from deep safety, picking up the deep crosser off a bootleg. Armani Watts showed the range from deep safety that makes him desirable, picking off a tipped pass following a play-fake. However, his man coverage and run fits were a mess. Kyzir White flashed the physicality and block shedding that makes him so desirable as a box safety. His hip rigidity was apparent in individual drills, and showed up versus the tight ends where he got overly grabby and struggled against the better route runners. This was to be expected, and his zone coverage awareness confirmed that a Cover 3 defense is his ideal fit. However, his issue with getting sucked into wanting to take on blocks, rather than getting outside versus runs as the alley defender, emerged. Finally, Marcus Allen looked stiff and slow, with poor COD skills and bad speed control.
Joseph Ferraiola watched the wide receivers again.
Early in the North practice, Colorado State’s Michael Gallup made a good decision on an end around reading defender’s leverage. There is not much to learn other than evaluating mental processing for plays like this. He showed off his strong hands as the ball gets on him quick and sticks to his shoulder. My favorite play of the day was Mayfield to Gallup on a perfectly placed throw that Gallup went up and grabbed extending above his head. Gallup displayed an excellent outside fake and hard plant to create separation to the inside.
New Mexico State’s Jaleel Scott came into the week with a lot of buzz due to his excellent size. He made a nice fake inside before making a catch along the boundary adjusting back to the pass. A lot of my focus on Scott today was concerning his hands. Michael Kist pointed out to me that he was having difficulty adjusting to low throws especially when he was on the move. This could be a lingering issue considering his size. While he struggled adjusting low, Scott did adjust nicely to passes thrown behind his back.
Miami’s Braxton Berrios displayed toughness laying out for passes making tough catches. One play especially stuck out where he ran a go route against a Cover 1 look where he laid out along the sideline. It appeared Berrios was a bit shaken up on the play. His arm length measured at 28 1/8th inches which hurt him while extending out for a pass on a crossing route.
Boise State’s Cedrick Wilson struggled a bit today against Press coverage as he did while studying his tape the last few weeks. There was a rep later in the day however, that Wilson looked to get into his route better against the press. Against Off Wilson was easily able to get into his routes and create separation with his suddenness. His double move was great today beating defenders deep.
Not much was known about Penn’s Justin Watson before today, but he displayed good long speed going deep and made one of the more spectacular catches of the day.
DaeShon Hamilton had the most impressive day for the North squad. The Penn State receiver struggled early dropping passes and double catching throws. However, he went on a run consistently beating Press coverage using his quickness and suddenness to create instant separation into his route. He also won with physicality using his hands to get into his route.